The other night when we were at the Taking Back Sunday show, there was this girl in the crowd who was just looking to fight someone. Unfortunately, I happened to be directly in the way of her and her one true love – Taking Back Sunday. She immediately began becoming very physical with me, shoving, stepping on my feet, and throwing her arms over my shoulders eclipsing my ears. I pondered what to do with this situation.
When you’re in the pit, you’re already sweaty, your adrenaline is pumping, and you are trying not to get crushed. You have to flex a certain amount of ego not to get completely trampled or pushed down or back from the spot you are in. I certainly didn’t want to lose my spot because Jesse and I had spent quite a long time working our way forward. At first, I wanted to just hit her. Not a pretty thing, not the most mentally healthy thing, but I strive for authenticity here. I was definitely in the fight or flight response.
Of course, my second response was just to give up and back up. But, my ego was already on the chopping block + I really like Taking Back Sunday + I didn’t want Jesse to have to move because of this horrible girl. So, I dealt with it until she started verbally abusing me. Then I just retorted with, “Why are you so being so mean?”
It pretty much resolved the conflict immediately. This girl had no reasonable answer for me. She was being mean for her own selfish benefit, wasting her time she could have been spending enjoying music, by trying to fight with a complete stranger. It got me to thinking, I wonder if people would want to know how I handle these issues, because let’s face it – there are a lot jerks in this world.
It’s important to use empathy in these situations. Sometimes, it will help diffuse the whole thing because people will feel understood, which is ultimately all that they want (an apology usually goes a long way too if you can admit when you’re wrong or you recognize that bruising your ego is not as bad as bruising your body in a physical fight). It also helps to understand the mental state of someone who is antagonizing you. In this situation, it was clear this girl wasn’t a happy person.
Anyone who spends the bulk of their time seeking out opportunities for conflict with others cannot think highly of themselves. Who would want to bring all that garbage on themselves daily? Sure, it’s fun for a bit when you’re high on adrenaline, but ultimately you’re ruining opportunities for connection, which is not what life is about. We’re created to connect. When you outright confront somebody’s behavior, it gives them pause. Rather than being the victim, address the jerk. Don’t whimper, don’t whine, just tell them very plainly that you are sorry that they did not get what they wanted, but ultimately, it doesn’t give them the right to rob you of your happiness. If you’re astute enough, call them out on their emotional state.
Nothing takes the wind out of someone’s sails like being told, “I’m sorry that you are so miserable that you are behaving in a way that’s depriving you of the opportunity to enjoy this show.”
I’ve never been in a fight, I don’t intend to be, but sometimes we have to deal with people who are irrational, hurting, or angry. If they can’t resolve their problems internally, they may project them onto you. I see this happen daily with the poor Seattle bus drivers. Between the population of people who utilize public transportation and the disaster that is trying to get somewhere on time on a bus, people just get angry at the bus driver when ultimately, it’s rarely in their control.
Don’t let yourself become someone’s dumping ground for their own emotional turmoil.
What about you guys? Any strategies or suggestions for dealing with jerks?